Djokovic and Musetti serve up memorable night in record-breaking French Open marathon

Sunday, 02 June 2024 at 03:09
Novak Djokovic (No. 1) found himself on the brink but managed to prevail against Lorenzo Musetti (No. 30) with an epic 7-5, 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory in over four and a half hours. The Italian displayed an exceptional level of play but couldn't sustain it until the end, allowing the 24-time Grand Slam champion to showcase his class and secure a hard-fought win.
The match set a record as the latest finish in French Open history, ending past 3:10 am. The previous record was held by Alexander Zverev's victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in 2021, which ended at 1:26 am local time.

Intense match start

The match started with high tension as Djokovic targeted Musetti's backhand and frequently used drop shots to unsettle his opponent, securing the first break in the third game. Musetti responded aggressively with his forehand, reclaiming the break in the next game.
The set stabilized with both players holding their serves more easily and avoiding extended rallies. Despite breathing difficulties at the end of the set, Djokovic managed to break in the 12th game, taking the set 7-5 and avoiding a tiebreak.
During the break, Djokovic quickly went to the locker room but returned not looking much improved. Nonetheless, his undeniable experience and skill allowed him to secure the first break and take a 4-1 lead. Musetti, however, maintained a high level of play and took his first break opportunity to level the score.
Djokovic seemed increasingly fatigued while Musetti remained fresh. The set reached a tiebreak, where Nole squandered a set point on his serve, and Musetti turned the tables to win the set 7-6.
Novak Djokovic at French Open
Novak Djokovic at French Open

The Italian Dominance

The 22-year-old Musetti played a flawless third set while Djokovic appeared increasingly overwhelmed. Musetti capitalized on his two break opportunities in the fourth and eighth games, winning the set 6-2. Djokovic had just a 50% first serve percentage, eight unforced errors, and only three winners, marking his most vulnerable moment in the match.
This time, Musetti used drop shots effectively, exploiting Djokovic's evident fatigue. The world No. 30 hit 10 winners and committed only three unforced errors in a nearly perfect set that left the Serbian against the ropes.

Epic Comeback for Nole

At the start of the fourth set, the match seemed evenly balanced. Some good points from Djokovic energized the crowd, helping him find a new level of energy. He reduced his errors and achieved an unexpected break in the fifth game. With the advantage, Djokovic displayed his experience, applying pressure to his opponent and securing a second consecutive break before closing the set 6-2, forcing a fifth set. Afterwards he told the crowd that at 2-2 in the fourth set he felt Musetti had become the better player. Nole said he could turn it around thanks to the energy he received from all fans at that particular moment.
Beating Djokovic in a fifth set is one of the toughest challenges any player can face, and the Serbian demonstrated why. The world No. 1 won 15 of the first 20 points in the set, quickly taking a 4-0 lead against Musetti, who continued to fight despite being outmatched.
Djokovic won his 369th match in Grand Slams.
Djokovic won his 369th match in Grand Slams.
Djokovic maintained his lead and exploited net approaches to shorten rallies effectively. Ultimately, Nole decisively sealed the set and the match, winning 7-5, 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.
In the round of 16, Djokovic will face Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo (No. 23), who is in great form and came back from a set down against Tommy Paul, ultimately winning comfortably. This marks the second consecutive year Cerundolo has reached the second week of the French Open.

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